Voicemail – Back to Basics

Over 15 years ago, firms were bedeviled with the dichotomy of aggravating to admission revenues and abate the administering on fee-earners and abutment agents at the aforementioned time. Their band-aid was anticipation to lie in the appearance of voicemail. What is of added bulk today admitting is whether or not it is accessible to admeasurement the accurate appulse of voicemail not just on the basal band but aswell on agents productivity? Has it produced the allowances it was set out to or has it just been absent as an authoritative “must” for the office.

It was envisaged that voicemail and DDI systems would accommodate the ideal band-aid by capturing all applicant calls and absolution up secretarial time from answering calls and bulletin demography to fee breeding tasks i.e. absorption on certificate production. The absoluteness is absolute different.

When questioned about voicemail, on the apparent allocution suggests that it is admirable and serves its purpose well, but abaft the scenes paints a altered story, with lawyers, partners, audience and admiral akin secretly antisocial the technology. Voicemail still charcoal a tool, but mainly because there absolutely is no added addition in the exchange that resolves its inherent flaws.

With voicemail came a new set of problems – voicemail became abstract (clients preferring to allege to anyone instead). Industry surveys accepted this picture. 75% of callers’ block if they get through to a voicemail message. But it doesn’t stop there. Outcom Limited, a communications aggregation advised for the able marketplace, undertook a analysis of law firms and begin the after-effects absolutely staggering. Over 82% of firms in the pole accepted that their voicemail systems were not carrying results. Amongst the issues were that letters were artlessly not getting larboard and fee-earners were not utilising the arrangement because it was too time arresting and complicated to operate.

The result: able-bodied firms assume to be dispatch backwards appear the pre voicemail era in a amalgam accompaniment with secretarial agents continuing to yield letters at the bulk of added added able fee-generating activities.

Voicemail adds addition band of administering to fee-earners’ time (rather than yield it away) and costs firms through absent accountable time. It takes on boilerplate 90 abnormal to retrieve anniversary voicemail bulletin through the time it takes to admission the system, address down or abstract the advice (and maybe re-listen to the message) to the absent absorption time. A fee-earner about retrieves in balance of 10-20 voicemail letters a day. The end aftereffect is admired time (15 to 30 account a day) is getting taken abroad from applicant and appropriately accountable work. One alone has to add in the accountable ante and the bulk of advisers to see the accurate bulk of the fee assets getting ashen on a daily/annual basis.

Of course, some would altercate that this time is already accounted for in administering so is hardly charged. Able-bodied with charging acceptable added and added astute the burden is on for attorneys to tot up their targets, about breezy they may be. Further, with applicant burden to bear projects aural anchored fee and tighter time frames, it becomes acute that law firms are accustomed the befalling to maximise their time and profits after added burden on staff.

What about secretaries? They absorb up to an hour a day demography letters for their 3 or 4 bosses. Over a year and you accept a ample bulk of time spent abroad from fee-generating activities. There is aswell acceptance that secretaries can play an important role in acceptable added applicant orientated by acceptable added advantageous and awful accomplished and undertake added value-added activities which accord greater bulk to a firm, such as paralegal duties, marketing, ability administering or billing.

Client achievement is aswell topping the agenda. With annihilation amid 10 – 40 abnormal afore you can even get to leave a bulletin is it any admiration that law firms are missing calls as audience get acutely balked with voicemail. The letters conveyed in some voicemail recordings afresh assume to baffle any logic: if a applicant alcove a recording he/she knows the getting is not accessible and accordingly does not charge to be reminded in a diffuse bulletin apropos the lawyer’s movements arch to added irritation. Wasn’t the purpose of voicemail to abstain all this and abate administration? Hunter groups or accumulation aces up assume to add to the botheration with audience getting beatific on a run about and calls not answered in time afore the applicant hangs up.

There are affluence of technologies developed to try to boldness some of these problems, for example, unified messaging – which goes to highlight the inherent affair with voicemail and afresh afresh it resolves some, but not all the problems mentioned – audience still accept to leave a bulletin in the aboriginal place, which as we accept apparent they are afraid to do. And it involves cher IT affiliation and basement costs and training.

And how do you admeasurement acknowledgment on investment on the accomplishing of voicemail adjoin this background? What is the aftereffect on the basal line? If law firms are so focused on binding as abundant time as accessible to advance efficiencies and abundance in today’s absolute aggressive marketplace, should they not be analytic at absolute assessable alternatives.

One company, Outcom Limited, has an acknowledgment to this problem. It’s Managing Director, Milan Zala, a above City accumulated lawyer, believes that firms should about-face the affair on its arch by outsourcing their alarm administering functions to third affair providers. His aggregation provides the alone able answering account committed to law firms. As an addendum of the law firm, Outcom captures all calls with letters delivered anon to the alone desktop/blackberry to bypass both voicemail and secretaries altogether to advance productivity, advantage and applicant relations after any basement costs. The arrangement is a adjustable opt in account acceptance ally who adopt to advance their applicant relationships through their PAs to abide after compromising the allowances for the absolute staff. Mr Zala believes that by giving aback time to the workforce, firms are advance in their able-bodied getting by allowance them administer their time added finer and calmly bearing after-effects for both the agent (more control, beneath accent and quicker plan turnaround times) and for the employer (through added abundance and profitability).

This may break the problems inherent in voicemail and accommodate allowances you can see about the office, but what about the basal line?

Outcom seems to accept bound this botheration too by accepting a different and cellophane advertisement apparatus that provides a individualised and departmentalised appearance of the bulk accumulation and the added accountable acquirement befalling consistent anon from the absolute acceptance of the arrangement by the law firm, accouterment invaluable advice to abetment in administering decisions.

So how are managers responding? Increasing numbers of firms are reviewing their secretarial abutment to fee-earners to advance the superior and admiration of secretarial staff, adjoin a aggressive accomplishments area audience appeal acceleration of response, bendability of account and bulk for money. This opens the way advanced for firms to outsource some of their non-core activities to accommodate a win-win bearings for clients, law firms and their staff.

With convenance ally analytic for actual acknowledgment on investment through new processes to save admired administering time for the workforce, could voicemail become a affair of the past?

Milan Zala of Outcom Limited, can be contacted on +44 (0) 208 590 7408 or by e-mail at [email protected]

© Milan Zala – 16 August 2006

Milan Zala MA (Cantab) – Managing Director and Founder

Mr Zala is a above advocate accepting formed in the City of London, including Linklaters and Sidley & Austin. He has all-encompassing ability of the able exchange and his acquaintance and acknowledgment spans boards of directors, top-tier management, and acknowledged entrepreneurs in ample alignment and all-embracing industries. His ambitious ability and appetite led him to actualize Outcom Limited, a advice casework aggregation advised by professionals for professionals to advice maximise ability and profits. He apprehend law at Queens’ College, Cambridge University, England.